The Iowa Utilities Board has approved a wind turbine operation it says will be the nation’s largest wind energy project. Des Moines-based MidAmerican Energy is behind the planned $3.6 billion wind turbine operation that will generate up to 2,000 megawatts of electricity. MidAmerican Energy said that is enough 800,000 homes and the project will see 85 percent of the company’s Iowa customer needs met through wind energy by 2020.
The first offshore wind farm in American waters, near Block Island, R.I., was completed this month. With just five turbines, the farm won’t make much of a dent in the nation’s reliance on fossil fuels, but it shows the promise this renewable energy source could have. When the turbines start spinning in November, they will power the island, which currently relies on diesel generators, and will also send electricity to the rest of Rhode Island. Putting windmills offshore, where the wind is stronger and more reliable than on land, could theoretically provide about four times the amount of electricity as is generated on the American grid today from all sources. This resource could be readily accessible to areas on the coasts, where 53 percent of Americans live.
Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island officials and electric utilities have joined together in evaluating more than 50 solicitations from energy companies to build in the region, generating power for all three states. The three southern New England states hope to leverage their combined purchasing power and attract wind, solar and fuel cell projects they possibly couldn’t lure on their own. The goal is to lower consumers’ utility costs in a high-price region of the country.
Blade by blade, General Electric Co. is building part of its future a few miles off the Rhode Island coast, turning a one-time piece of Enron Corp. into a global renewable-energy business. GE shipped 400-ton nacelles and other massive equipment from its factories in Europe to Providence this summer to outfit the Block Island project, the first offshore wind farm in the U.S. The turbines — each about twice the height of the Statue of Liberty — were installed last week and are set to go online later this year.
Renewable energy has made significant inroads into the U.S. energy system and even in the era of low fossil fuel prices, costs for solar and wind installations are down dramatically. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the solar industry trade group, costs to install solar panels fell by more than 70 percent over the last 10 years and during that time, solar saw a compounded annual growth rate of nearly 60 percent. The trade organization for the wind energy industry, the American Wind Energy Association, said costs are down more than 90 percent since the early 1980s.
The purchase price of U.S. solar energy systems is at a record low, according to two new reports from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The “state of the market” reports examine both distributed solar photovoltaic systems, such as those commonly found on residential rooftops, and utility-scale solar. The median installed price of solar systems in the United States fell about 5 to 12 percent last year, according to the lab. For example, the price of utility-scale systems last year fell by roughly 12 percent from 2014. Prices for large nonresidential systems fell by about 9 percent.
Residents in Kidal in northern Mali are finding it easier to work and study into the night thanks to a solar lighting project recently introduced to the area. About 1,500 households are now able to switch on their lights thanks to a 50,000 US dollar project funded by the U.N. Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). The government has been trying to promote renewable energy technologies since 2007, hoping they will reach 15 percent of the total national energy supply by 2020
So much wind sweeps through Oklahoma’s plains that the state — while currently ranked fourth in its capacity to produce wind energy — is on pace to overtake No. 3 California in installed capacity by the end of the year. Data from the second quarter of 2015 shows Oklahoma has more than 1,000 megawatts of wind capacity under construction, said Hannah Hunt, a senior analyst with the American Wind Energy Association.
California will set a sweeping economywide carbon emissions target of a 40 percent reduction below 1990 levels by 2030, after lawmakers voted yesterday to approve a bill giving them more say in the state’s climate policies. The state Senate passed a bill to give lawmakers more oversight of the California Air Resources Board, the agency charged with writing regulations to achieve the targets. It was part of a package that also included S.B. 32, the actual target-setting bill, which passed the Assembly on Tuesday. Both measures now head to Gov. Jerry Brown (D), who has said he will sign them.
A Southern California county refused to authorize a sprawling solar power project yesterday, jeopardizing the contentious federally approved project. The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors yesterday voted not to approve the county’s environmental review of the 287-megawatt Soda Mountain Solar Project, which has drawn widespread opposition for its location near the Mojave National Preserve.